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Takuji Hamanaka

Woodblock Prints




Simply Haiku
March/April, 2004, v2n2

At the age of 18, Takuji Hamanaka apprenticed at Adachi Woodblock Printing Studio in Tokyo, Japan from 1986-1988. He learned the traditional Japanese printing technique for reproductions of old Japanese Ukiyo-e from artists such as Hiroshige, Hokusai, and Utamaro. From 1989-1994, Takuji was a freelance woodblock printer for many artists in Tokyo, Japan and then in Brooklyn, NY. Since then he has given many demonstrations and exhibited his art prints in numerous gallery group shows. He has a collection at Johnson Museum of Art at Cornell University, NY. Takuji teaches at the Center for Book Arts and Manhattan Graphic Center in New York, Connecticut Graphic Arts Center in Connecticut, as well as conducting workshops at Dublin Arts Council in Dublin, Ohio and Ink-Shop in Ithaca, NY. For photos of his studio and further art by Takuji, visit -

Takuji Hamanaka creates a woodblock print by conceiving a design. He then draws a detailed image on paper. Copies are made and each page is adhered face-down to an untouched block. The block is then carved according to the design as it is seen through the paper. The reverse images seen in the carved block results in a right-facing image when printed. Once the carving is complete, the printing process begins. One at a time, Hamanaka inks the blocks with the desired colors using a brush. Damp paper is then laid atop the blocks, and the color is transferred by rubbing the paper.

His work combines the ancient techniques of Japanese woodblock printmaking with a contemporary aesthetic. His designs can be described as ranging from angular and geometric to abstract and biomorphic.

Hamanaka as an artist is attracted to the surfaces created by printed images. "The result of the printing process is that only what is necessary is retained on the paper, nothing more, nothing less. Colors in prints do not just sit on the paper; rather they sink deep into the paper. I like the unified surface and physical appearance that the printmaking process can convey," Hamanaka said.

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